Understand Your Baby’s Sleep Needs
During the first 2 months, your newborn’s need to eat overrules their need to sleep. They may feed almost every 2 hours if you’re breastfeeding, and possibly a little less often if you bottle-feed.
Your baby may sleep from 10 to 18 hours a day, sometimes for 3 to 4 hours at a time. But babies dont know the difference between day and night. So they sleep with no regard for what time it is. That means your babys wide-awake time may be from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
By 3 to 6 months, many babies are able to sleep for a stretch of 6 hours. But just as you think your baby is getting into a nice routine — usually between 6 and 9 months — normal developmental stages can throw things off. For instance, when your baby begins to associate bedtime with being left alone, they may start crying just to keep you around.
Not Drowsy At Bedtime It Might Be Because Your Babys Internal Clock Is Out Of Sync With The 24
First things first: Does your baby appreciate that nighttime is for sleeping? If not, youre fighting an uphill battle.
Most infants dont develop strong, hormonally-driven circadian rhythms until they are 12 weeks old, and some babies take considerably longer .
You might assume that this is one of those developmental things we just have to wait out. But thats not quite true. The evidence suggests we have help young babies attune themselves faster. If we lay the right groundwork early on, we may avoid some infant sleep problems later on.
Be sure to try these tactics:
- Support your babys tendencies to wake up at the same time each morning, and expose your baby to daylight during the morning and afternoon.
- Include your baby in everyday activities. The hustle and bustle of social life helps set your babys inner clock.
- Avoid exposure to artificial lights before and during bedtime particularly LED lights and other light sources that feature light from the blue part of the spectrum.
Experiments show that blue light is particularly effective at blocking the brains production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleepiness. A little exposure to blue light can delay sleepiness for an hour or more. And it affects adults as well as children!
For more tips, see How to help baby adapt to the 24-hour day in my article about opens in a new windownewborn sleep.
What If My Baby Won’t Sleep In A Crib
Sometimes babies just dont want to transition from Mom or Dads cozy arms into their own crib, no matter how cute it looks.
If thats the case, blur the lines between you and the baby bed. Try calming him down in your arms until he’s drowsy, then gently place him directly onto the bed without losing skin-to-skin contact.
A little massage or patting should help him nod off too. Make sure the temperature in your baby’s room is comfortably warm. Dim the lights and put on a white noise machine or fan to drown out ambient sounds.
Swaddling baby or putting him into a sleep sack before placing him in the crib may make him feel extra secure and, hopefully, encourage him to fall asleep in his bed.
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Newborns Can Get Bored Too
Just as a newborn can get overstimulated, they can also get bored. While it may not happen often, there is a chance that your newborn is fussy because they are a little bored. This doesnt mean that you have to pull out the toys and musical instruments, but you need to do something to amaze them.
Luckily, newborns are easily amazed. All it could take is mom reading a story or singing a song to entertain them. They may relax just by hearing moms voice. It also could be as simple as changing the direction they are looking. They have seen all they can see from this side, change it up and give them a different view.
Babies Have Shorter Sleep Cycles Than You Do
Stand adoringly next to your sleeping baby and watch him sleep. About an hour after he goes to sleep, he begins to squirm, he tosses a bit, his eyelids flutter, his face muscles grimace, he breathes irregularly, and his muscles tighten. He is reentering the phase of light sleep. The time of moving from deep to light sleep is a vulnerable period. Many babies will awaken if any upsetting or uncomfortable stimulus, such as hunger, occurs. If the baby does not awaken, he will drift through this light sleep period over the next ten minutes. Followed by a descend back into a deep sleep.
Adult sleep cycles lasts an average of 90 minutes. Infant sleep cycles are shorter, lasting 50 to 60 minutes. Infants experience a vulnerable period for night-waking around every hour or even less. As your baby enters this light sleep, lay a comforting hand on your babys back, or sing a soothing lullaby. If baby is in your bed, be there next to him. You can help him get through this light sleep period without waking.
NIGHTTIME PARENTING LESSON #2:
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Is Your Babys Bedtime Is Too Early Or Too Late
When should babies go to bed? It can be hard to figure out.
Some parents overestimate infant sleep requirements, or try to force bedtime on an infant that isnt sleepy.
Thats bad for a couple of reasons. In the short-term, the baby resists bedtime, and everyone is unhappy. In the long-term, your child is learning to associate bedtime with the failure to fall asleep. It could be a recipe for developing bedtime resistance and insomnia .
Other parents keep their babies awake too long, making their babies irritable.
It can be an easy mistake to make, especially if your baby seems very active and energetic. Isnt that proof that your baby isnt yet ready for sleep?
Maybe, but there is another possibility: Your baby might be hyper-reactive or overtired. If so, youre babys behavior is deceptive: Hes not alert because hes well-rested. Hes alert because his stress response system is stuck on high gear.
What to do? If youre uncertain, review these opens in a new windowsigns of infant tiredness, and consult this Parenting Science article about the range of sleep times observed in normal, healthy babies. It will help you home in on your babys needs.
Then, if you suspect your babys bedtime is too early, try these opens in a new windowgentle infant sleep training solutions. They are safe to use, and dont involve any cry it out tactics.
Stick To An Early Bedtime
When considering how to put a baby to sleep, timing is just as important as a routine. “At around 8 weeks, babies have a rise in melatonin, a drowsy-making hormone the body releases when it’s time for sleep, which means they’re ready for an early bedtime consistent with the sun setting,” says Turgeon. “If you keep them up late instead, they become overstimulated and harder to put down.” Melatonin levels rise somewhere around sundown, but given that sundown can be anytime from 4:30 in winter to 8:30 in summer, stick to the clock and put your baby down around 6:30 or 7 p.m. for the most success. If the sun is still up, close the shades.
“A good sign of drowsiness is when the baby becomes calmthey’re less active, have a bored look, or just stare off,” says Turgeon. Don’t mistake this behavior as happiness for being awake. Seize the moment and start your bedtime routine. “The baby’s internal clock is telling them when to be awake and when to be asleep, and you want to reinforce that,” she notes.
- RELATED: How to Combat Baby Sleep Regression
Read Also: How Much Crying Is Normal For A Newborn
How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Tip : Get Strategic About Diaper Changes
Did you know that many babies aren’t bothered by sleeping with a wet diaper? Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be changing it throughout the night , but it does mean you might be changing it more than you need to.
We keep mentioning the importance of keeping baby calm and activity low during nighttime. Diaper changes can be pretty active and can really wake your baby up. Start changing your baby’s diaper before you feed them, that way they can calm back down and hopefully fall asleep either while your feeding them, or shortly after.
If you have to change their diaper after being fed, don’t turn on the lights, avoid talking to them excitedly and making eye contact. Try to master the diaper change with just the light from a night light so you’re not giving your baby any signals that it’s time to wake up.
Change Your Babys Diaper Strategically
Changing the diaper before a middle of the night feeding prevents the baby from waking up too much after a feeding is finished. When the baby wakes up change the diaper and re-swaddle to prepare him for sleep immediately following a night feeding. If you change the diaper after the night feeding, the baby may become too awake, making it more challenging for him to fall asleep.
Now, Ive also heard from parents of very young newborn babies sharing that the baby poops right after a night feeding. This is very common during the early newborn phase when babies are still working out the flow of their digestive tracts.
If your baby is consistently stooling after a night feeding, then certainly, just wait to change the diaper until after the feed. Once your babys gut matures and he or she stops stooling immediately after a night feed, you can go back to changing the diaper before the feed.
Recommended Reading: What Can Help My Newborn With Constipation
Dealing With Baby Sleep Problems
All babies change their sleep patterns. Just when you think you have it sorted and you’ve all had a good night’s sleep, the next night you might be up every 2 hours.
Be prepared to change routines as your baby grows and enters different stages. And remember, growth spurts, teething and illnesses can all affect how your baby sleeps.
If your baby is having problems sleeping or you need more advice about getting into a routine, speak to your health visitor.
Creating A Pleasant Place To Sleep
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Ways To Make A Baby Sleep
December 11, 2012 by getbabytosleep
Getting a baby to fall asleep sometimes seems like the easiest thing in the world. At the newborn stage, when they sleep about 18 hours a day, you have trouble keeping them awake. Its eat, sleep, diaper, repeat. Then they start to grow up and everything changes.
At some point babies realize that theres a whole wide world of things to see and touch and eat out there. They dont want to miss anything! And so they start staying awake longer, fighting sleep with ever-louder cries.
To help you, the frazzled sleep-deprived parent, weve put together this list of tips and techniques for making a baby go to sleep. The quick and easy ways are listed first, followed by more advanced strategies for when your baby still wont fall asleep.
Is Irregular Timing Or A Lack Of Routine Is Making It Harder For Your Baby To Settle Down
Young children may sleep longer at night when they observe regular bedtimes .
Research also suggests that children fall asleep faster, and spend less time awake at night, when their parents implement a consistent bedtime routine at night like bathing, quietly dressing for bed, and reading a bedtime story .
So if youre struggling with infant sleep problems, its worth introducing a bedtime routine. Indeed, in one experimental study, parents improved infant sleep problems after introducing bedtime routines .
But are regular bedtimes really necessary to avoid sleep trouble?
Cross-cultural studies suggest otherwise. In many parts of the world bedtimes are fluid or irregular, and babies go to sleep without fanfare .
Indeed, its the norm among hunter-gatherer societies the peoples whose life-ways most closely resemble those of our ancestors. And hunter-gatherers are remarkable for their lack of sleep complaints .
Its evident, then, that there is more than one way to achieve healthy sleep patterns. But before you conclude that anything goes, keep in mind these crucial points.
First, irregular bedtimes can cause trouble if they lead to irregular morning wake-up times.
If you wake up at different times each morning, it can disrupt your circadian rhythms. Maybe thats why anthropologists have observed morning regularity among hunter-gatherers: They tend to get up at the same time each morning regardless of when they fell asleep the night before .
Also Check: How Many Hours Of Sleep Should A Newborn Get
Master The Four B’s: Bath Book Bed Bottle
“A consistent bedtime routine can work wonders. The order is up to you, but it usually involves a soothing bath, a story, and one last feeding. I also like to add a quick massage with lotion, gently squeezing and releasing the baby’s knees, wrist, elbows, and shoulders, wherever there’s a joint. Then you might do a final ‘closing up’ of the nursery: Now we turn out the light, now we start the white-noise machine, now we sway beside the crib, now I lay you downand that’s the signal that it’s time to sleep.” Nalle